Penny Blue is a cosy bar down a laneway in Melbourne's CBD. The comfy couches, laid-back atmosphere, friendly service and incredible selection of craft beer make it a great place to unwind after a day's work.
But for those on the other side of the bar? As Kayne from DXM Tech Support discovered, their IT setup meant constant headaches and frustrations.
The network was the worst of it - there was a modem that nobody could log into anymore, plugged into a router, plugged into another router, plugged into a wifi router, plugged into a switch, all configured for different IP ranges - which is just geek-speak to say there were too many boxes and none of them talked to each other.
They were connected together with a spaghetti mess of cables, veering off in every direction like satan's pubic hair. It was impossible to guess what each cable did.
And it was constantly breaking.
As bar manager Royce puts it: “Our network was a complete disaster. You never quite knew when it would go haywire next, and when it did, there were 5 different places that might be the problem, and no way of finding out which one. It was such a constant pain in the neck. I mean, we don't hire our bar staff for their computer skills. All we're trying to do is serve a thirsty after-work crowd some good beer.”
Kayne was quick to agree.
Trying to do anything with this network felt a little bit like staring at a Picasso painting and a lot like putting on a spacesuit filled with angry bees.
Here's one of the IT industry's dirty little secrets: it's not always a job well done that keeps guys in work.
If you make things needlessly complicated, not bother to learn accepted industry conventions and standards, and write nothing down about how you did it, you'll end up with a system that no other person on the planet can figure out.
So when something goes wrong, you'll be the only option.
This is where things were at for Penny Blue. Every time there was a problem with the network - which was often - old mate was guaranteed a fee to come and fix it.
On top of this networking disaster, more problems were piling up, getting worse and worse because nobody wanted to deal with them.
The email server had developed into a Bermuda Triangle of sorts - they'd lost access to a couple of their important accounts - emails would go in but never come out again.
The Point of Sale system was running on an expired licence and was starting to malfunction. It got so bad that the till wouldn't open. The staff responded with the Flintstones option: doing everything by hand.
Clearly this needed replacing. And yet, the prospect of wrestling with the network made that unthinkable.
The printers were also at the end of their useful life - but again, dealing with the network made replacing them too difficult.
Even playing music was becoming a problem.
It was time for drastic measures: rebuild the network from scratch.
So while the bar was shut for renovations, Kayne designed and implemented a much simpler setup of a modem and a switch.
Now the network made sense, and the rest of the IT work could go ahead. The Flintstones method of tracking sales was replaced by a shiny new cloud-based Point of Sale solution - where all the data is backed up off-site for security and peace of mind. Adding and configuring new printers was a breeze.
So how does Royce feel about this?
“Thanks so much Kayne. It's so nice not to have to deal with a constant diet of network problems anymore. Stuff just works. Now we can just get on with the work day, without having to even really think about our IT systems.”